By early night, I’m puttered out, but Old Navy is calling my name. Once inside, I feel in my element. No fancy brand names or crotch-less thongs. Just normal clothes. I rack up on the essentials, jeans, t-shirts, shorts, normal pajamas, socks, camies, simple dresses, sandals. When I meet Anna at the register with her own small stack of clothes, she smiles.
“You’re really getting the hang of this shopping thing. I love it. You’ll totally be my partner in crime.” I shake my head as the guy behind the register frowns at how much he has to ring up.
After a full day of shopping and getting my hair done, I and exhausted and my feet are screaming. I just want to take a hot bath and go to sleep....in my new apartment. This is all so surreal. In one day, my whole life has changed. I can’t possibly thank Ethan enough, but I will surely try. Anna makes the lengthy drive back to my apartment and by the time we get there, I’m half sleep. We grab our bags and head into the building. While on the elevator, I turn to Anna.
“I really want to thank you for today. Most people would have treated me like their charity case, but you just treated me like a friend. I needed that.”
“Thea, we became friends the moment Ethan brought up shopping. None of the other woman at work are really our age so it’s nice to have you around. Now everyone can be jealous of you too” She smiles and just barely bounces in excitement as the elevator doors open to my floor. When Anna opens the door for me, my mouth drops.
“Oh my god”
“Yeah, I’m totally jealous right now.” Anna mumbles “Ethan is definitely going to have to redecorate my place, pronto”
Stepping in, I look around my new fully furnished apartment. In the living room, there is an all-black leather sofa set with red and black pillows on it as well as red curtains going across the long window. The tables are black with red decor on it with a red rug under it. I notice that the red and black play off each other throughout the kitchen against the stainless steel appliances. Anna and I walk further in and I gasp seeing a flat screen tv mounted over an electric fire place. Anna squeals.
“I’m going to be spending so much time over here.”
I force a laugh, but still in disbelief.
Suddenly, Ethan appears from the bedroom and smiles.
“I thought I heard you two” when he walks up, he eyes our bags first. “I hope Anna didn’t burn a hole in my black card” He chuckles before finally looking up at me.
I inhale sharply, feeling heat creep up my neck. Catching me off guard, Ethan reaches forward and runs his fingers through my hair.
“Nice. I’m glad you got it taken care of. It looks healthy”
I shrug “Yeah. I like it.”
Ethan stares at me for a moment before clearing his throat and slipping his hands into his pockets.
“So what do you think of your place. I hope you like the colors. I do know you like red” He winks at me and I snort at the hair dye reference.
“It’s amazing. I feel like you’ve done too much for me. Thank you so much, Ethan” I sigh pacing around the living room, taking it all in.
Ethan and Anna talk for a bit as I wonder around and when I get to my bedroom, I am in awe. My bedroom is gorgeous. The bed is queen size with a luxurious blue silk comforter set the bedside tables are silver as well as the carpet and the two dressers. I walk in and sit my bags by the bed and when I open the closet, I see that it’s a walk in and all the clothes Anna picked out this morning are already there. Closing it, I walk to the other door that I assume is the bathroom. I push it open and flick the light on to see marble everything with a separate shower and tub.
“Do you like it?”
I turn and see Ethan standing at the bedroom door, leaning against it.
“I love it so much. I can’t even wrap my head around all this. I don’t know if I want to cry or laugh or pass out”
Ethan chuckles and steps forward by the bed where his foot hits one of my lingerie bags. He looks down before looking back at me, continuing.
“Only the best for someone who deserves it. What kind of boss would I be if I let you stay in that dump? And I’m using the term dump, lightly. I want to make sure my personal assistant is well taken care of.”
“Thank you. I should thank Anna again for the hundredth time.”
“She’s gone already. It’ll have to wait till you get to work, Thursday.” He smiles. “So I guess I should let you get settled in. If you need me, I’m a few floors up. Call or come by for anything. My number is in the office you passed down the hall.”
“I thought it was a hall closet. Silly me for not noticing an office in my apartment” I reply sarcastically, rolling my eyes and laughing.
“I know. I’m going to definitely have to get you adjusted to this lifestyle, Thea.” He shakes his head in disbelief before smirking. “Well, good night.”
“Good night, Ethan.”
When he leaves, I empty out all my clothes and sexy things and put them either on hangers or in drawers. The pink dildo, handcuffs, and paddle go in the bedside table. When everything is in its place, I run myself a hot bubble bath. Reaching in my pocket, I pull out the elastic Ethan gave me, pulling my new hair in a high bun. Just can’t escape them.
Slipping down in the water, the smell of vanilla consumes the bathroom. Breathing deeply, relaxation inches over every part of me. I can definitely get used to this in due time. With a place like this, I will definitely be the happiest person at work. I understand Ethan now. I wouldn’t have been happy working while living in that hell hole. I would still feel lousy and sad every day I had to come home to it.
While soaking in the water, I low rumble erupts in my tummy. I literally haven’t eaten a full meal all day. While at the salon I had a few cookies and water, but that was it.
I cut my bath short and dry off, pulling on a pair of too long cotton pajama pants and a v neck shirt from Old Navy. I slide my feet into my new slippers and shuffle to the kitchen. When I go to open the fridge, I frown. Uh, what the hell? I could have stayed in my old place for this. In my fridge was nothing, but air. Ethan forgot to stock the place with food. Laughing to myself, I go to find his number to call him. I open the office door and turn the light in only to see, on the desk, a Apple computer, laptop, and iPhone sitting there. Jesus, must have me on his good list.
I walk over to the desk and pick up the iPhone, reading the sticky note on it.
Your old phone is crap. Don’t deny it, I saw it. Put all your numbers in this phone and throw your old one in the trash. ASAP! -E
Rolling my eyes, I laugh loudly, rubbing my forehead. Turning on the phone, I sit down in the office chair and set it up, putting in the few contacts in my phone and notice that all of Ethan’s contacts are in it. When I’m done, I find his number, but don’t press it. I’d rather thank him for all this stuff in person and tell him that he must plan on starving me out. Leaving my apartment, I ride the elevator, still in pajamas, to his floor. While riding, the bun in my head becomes too tight so I free my locks, sighing in relief. At his door, I hesitate before knocking lightly.
A few seconds later it opens “Thea, what’s wrong?”
“Oh, nothing much. First, I’d like to thank you for all the new electronics as well as insulting my old phone.”
Smirking, Ethan licks his lips and I almost forget the whole speech I planned on the way here. I clear my throat “And, I’d like to ask for one thing that you forgot”
“Getting greedy, huh?”
“I tilt my head, something like that. You forgot to give me food.”
The smirk falls of Ethan’s lips and he groans “Shit. I’m so sorry, Thea. I was so wrapped up in setting everything up, I forgot to call for groceries. Please come in”
He steps aside and I walk past him. I take in his place and it similar to mine only bigger and better. However, his apartment looks like a person with OCD lives here. Everything single thing is placed neatly. Not one thing is out of place. Closing the door, Ethan walks to the kitchen and pulls a bowl out of his cabinet.
“I made some stir fry. Is that okay?”
I sit down on the barstool at his counter and watch his prepare my small meal.
“I’m really sorry again, Thea. I’m truly ashamed for forgetting something as simple as food” Turning around, he sits a bowl and wine glass in front of me with a fork.
I watch as he pours my wine before I start eating. Silence fall over the room as Ethan leans against the counter across from me and stares at me eat. I try to ignore it, but it makes me fidget in discomfort. I chew my food slowly as I avoid his gaze. When I pick up the wine glass, I catch his gaze and a drop of wine drips down my chin. Crap.
Wiping it with my thumb, I suck the top of my thumb and across the kitchen, I hear Ethan inhale sharply. Looking up at him, his arms are cross and his stare is critical.
“You really don’t like when people stare at you?”
I shake my head “No. It makes me anxious and it feels like fire under my skin. I’m sorry, but you really have to stop”
He asks and I nod.
“I don’t think it’s that interesting.” Pick at my food, eating bits of it.
“Just trying to get to know you a little better. So when did it start?” He steps to the counter where I’m sitting and leans forward, resting on his arms.
“When I was 14 I went to a sleepover and the girls sat around and told me everything that was wrong and ugly about me. They talked about my ears, lips, nose, hair, neck, and stomach, every body part you could think of. It affected my self-esteem for a while, but more so it made me a mess when people stared at me. I hate introducing myself to a group of people or talking in public. I avoid it all. If I am out in public, I stare at my feet or play on my phone to distract myself from the thought of people around me looking and analyzing me”
Ethan doesn’t say anything for a while, he just looks at me for a moment “I’m really sorry that you have to go through that, Thea.”
“Yeah, me too” I look down in the bowl and finish up the last few bites before taking a few more sips of wine. When I’m done, Ethan takes the dishes and places them in the sink.
“Tomorrow, there will be food delivered in the morning, I promise.”
“Thanks. Uh, I should be getting back to my new place. It’s getting late. Thanks for dinner.” I smile as I walk to his door. Ethan follows as I open it and turn to him “Good night, again.”
“Good night.” He smiles and I go to leave.
“Yeah?” I turn in my heels and look up at him.
“If people are staring and judging you, it because they have their own insecurities. If you ever catch me staring, just know I’m always thinking good things. Always.”
A smile creeps across my lips and I look down to hide it “Thank you, Ethan. Good night”
“Good night, Thea”.